Toolbox: Job done sharpish

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AN EVOCATIVE photograph, taken early this century, depicts an itinerant knife-sharpener plying his trade in the middle of what is now my home town's busiest crossroads. Closer to the present, I recall reducing the blade of my Boy Scout jack- knife to blobs of molten metal while attempting to sharpen it with a big, fast-turning abrasive wheel.

The need to hone secateurs and pruning knives prompted me to buy the small, simple Multi-Sharp secateur sharpener, whose efficiency is endorsed by the Royal National Rose Society. It is made of plastic and has two components. An L- shaped part consists of a clamp for the blade and a 3in upright with four holes. The other bit has a finger-and-thumb grip, a pad of silicon carbide abrasive, and a rod that passes through the holes.

You clamp the blade, decide which hole will create the correct sharpening angle, then stroke the abrasive pad up and down for as long as it takes to create an efficient cutting edge. Clear instructions are part of the sharpener's appeal.

Multi-Sharp secateur sharpeners ( pounds 5.05 including p & p) are available from Buyer's Choice, 88 Station Road, Burton Latimer, Northamptonshire NN15 5JW (0536 724519).

(Photograph omitted)